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Volcanic Eruption in the Philippines: Escape from the Ejection

The Taal Volcano spews ash and lava, resulting in the closure of Manila's airport. Hundreds of thousands of people are threatened with evacuation.

The ash rain turns the area north of the Taal volcano into a lunar landscape Photo: Aaron Favila / ap

TALISAY / TAGAYTAYafp / ap / dpa / taz | More than 13,000 people in the Philippines have escaped to safety after the Taal volcano erupted. Most were in evacuation centers in the hard hit province of Batangas and in the neighboring province of Cavite, the police said. The authorities feared a mass evacuation with hundreds of thousands of people on Monday. Lava flows poured out of the volcano, located 65 kilometers south of Manila, huge clouds of ash rose, and houses and streets in the region were covered with ash and rocks. The wind drove the ash clouds north onto the metropolis of Manila. There, 240 flights were canceled at Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

Clark Freeport Airport, a former US air force base, located even further north, was initially still open. The civil aviation authority announced that should the ash rain also hinder the flights there, it will also shut down for the time being.

Warning of "explosive outbreak"

The authorities had warned of an "explosive eruption" of the volcano over the weekend. The ashes from the crater could cause breathing problems, especially in the youngest and in people who are already breathless.

Over the volcanic crater, lightning-like light phenomena could be observed again and again, for which the experts initially had no explanation.

Boulders with a diameter of more than six centimeters pelted down in the area around the volcano. Schools, some government agencies and the Manila Stock Exchange remained closed on Monday as a precaution. However, flight operations could partially be resumed.

The ash cloud rose to a height of 15 kilometers on Sunday. Since then, at least 50 tremors have been counted. The Taal is one of the most active volcanoes in the East Asian island nation. According to the head of the Seismological Institute (Phivolcs), Renato Solidum, it last erupted in 1977.

Evacuation creates traffic problems

Some residents could not leave their home villages because of the lack of local traffic, others because hardly anything could be seen through the ash and smoke. “We have a problem, our people are panic about the volcano. They want to save their cattle, their pigs and herds of cattle ”, said the mayor of Balete, Wilson Maralit, the radio station DZMM. "We try to stop their return and warn them that the volcano could erupt again at any time and hit them."

The Taal is located in the middle of a lake and is very popular because of its scenic beauty and a destination for people from Manila.

Earthquakes and volcanic activity are not uncommon in the Philippines. The islands are located on the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, where tectonic plates collide under the earth's surface.

The Mayon volcano last drove tens of thousands of people to flight in January 2018 after throwing millions of tons of ash, stones and lava into the air.

In an eruption of the Pinatubo, around a hundred kilometers northwest of Manila, more than 800 people were killed in 1991.

The Taal is the second most active volcano in the Southeast Asian island state after the Mayon. According to the Philippine Institute Phivolcs, it has erupted a total of 33 times since 1572. The eruption so far was in 1911 - at that time more than 1,300 people died.